Cases of a stress-related medical condition commonly known as broken heart syndrome that produces the same symptoms as a heart attack has doubled since the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Cleveland Clinic study published July 9 in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

The patients in the study at two Ohio hospitals did not have the coronavirus, nor did they show signs of coronary artery disease, leading researchers to attribute the chest pain and shortness of breath to “psychological, social and economic stress” from the pandemic.

The study, conducted from March 1 through April 30, included 258 patients with heart symptoms. The patients were compared with four control groups before the pandemic.

Takotsubo syndrome, or stress cardiomyopathy, as the condition is also known, weakens the heart muscle and can also swell the heart’s left ventricle. Patients usually recover in no more than a few weeks, but in rare cases, it can cause death. When actress Debbie Reynolds died in 2016, a day after the death of her actress-author daughter, Carrie Fisher, some medical experts suggested her death might have been caused by the syndrome.

For more information about broken heart syndrome, click here.

Not feeling well? Call your healthcare provider for guidance and try to avoid going directly to an emergency department or urgent care center, as this could increase the chances of the disease spreading.

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